Tyson® Precision Cooked Chicken is All-Natural, Tender, and Versatile

Thanks to increasing awareness, consumers have become more conscientious in their food and beverage selection and consumption. All-natural, antibiotic-free poultry products are becoming the norm rather than the exception.

As part of this growing movement, Tyson Foods is offering a new line of farm-raised, minimally processed premium chicken. The chicken is fully cooked using the French sous vide style of cooking, cultivating a delicate texture and feel. And because it is fully cooked, the chicken can be prepared directly from frozen or after having been thawed. Available in breast fillets, thigh fillets, and ready-to-pull chicken thighs, Tyson® precision cooked chicken keeps food preparation quick, simple, and flexible.

In the video above, host Olivia Aleguas and presenter Megan Harris explore three unique dish possibilities with the chicken.

“For an operator, it is essential to have time, food safety, quality, and versatility in a product,” says Harris. And with the precision cooked chicken, “You get this high-end, tender taste across all of the premium products.”

And because of the chicken’s tender texture, knives are unnecessary—simply grab a fork and enjoy!

Watch the video above to learn more about proper preparation and flavor possibilities. This post is brought to you by Tyson Foods. To see more content like this, visit The Modern Chef.

Produced by:

Darisha Beresford

Darisha Beresford

Production Manager / Sr. Producer

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Cowboy Chicken Goes Back to the Basics

Creating and sustaining a successful fast casual restaurant is becoming more and more of a challenge for business operators today. The market is oversaturated, and differentiating your restaurant from similar concepts can be complicated and time-consuming.

Cowboy Chicken seems to have unearthed the right recipe. The chain specializes in all-natural, wood-fired rotisserie chicken—unlike most chains, which offer fried chicken—paired with a wide variety of homestyle sides.

Founded in 1981, the premium fast casual restaurant initially struggled to find its footing. However, soon after Cowboy Chicken CEO Sean Kennedy joined the business in 2002, the company began to thrive: when Kennedy was hired, the company had dwindled to only one location. Today, the company boasts 26 total units nationwide.

“We’ve really focused on consistent execution of the basics: delicious food, genuine hospitality, and clean restaurants,” says Kennedy. “Our goal is to serve the best chicken on the planet to every guest.”

Customer needs are also changing. “Consumers continue to be attracted to something that’s different and exciting,” notes Kennedy. “The consumer is shifting to a higher expectation of delivered items and the convenience within.”

And cultivating an enjoyable work culture behind the counter is essential to ensuring that those needs are consistently met. “It takes a team to truly make a brand successful,” adds Kennedy. “Having the right team is critical to growth… you have to create a culture where people want to come to work for you and they feel value.”

For Kennedy, that means filling the team with a combination of workers who know the brand and its history, as well as experienced outsiders who approach the work without any predetermined bias and boundaries.

Check out the podcast above to hear more about how Cowboy Chicken is confronting the current challenges in the industry head-on, and what lies ahead for the fast casual chain.

Produced by:

Darisha Beresford

Olivia Aleguas

Producer

Panera Bread Rolls Out Climate-Friendly Dinner Options

Lunch hotspot Panera Bread is adding dinner to the menu this summer. The sandwich chain is currently testing a menu featuring hearty meals available from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Jacksonville, Florida, and intends to test the “dinner-centric” menu in nine additional locations in Lexington, Kentucky beginning next month.

In a news release, Panera Bread also noted the company’s goal to continue to provide customers with healthy options for themselves and their children — including for dinner. “Panera’s craveable new dinner options are helping to meet guests demand to eliminate the trade-off between good for you and ease. Like all Panera menu items, all offerings are 100 percent clean with no artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors, or colors from artificial sources.”

The meals are still designed to be quick. Sara Burnett, the vice president of wellness and food policy for Panera, emphasized that the company is endeavoring to balance the ideals of fast and healthy for busy individuals and families. “People are often challenged by the dichotomy between convenience and quality,” she says. And the chain does not want its customers to “have to trade one for the other, especially dinner on the go.”

By sales, Panera is the tenth-largest chain in the United States. And dinnertime purchases provide, on average, about a quarter to a third of the company’s sales. According to Panera’s chief growth and strategy officer Dan Wegiel, customer feedback suggests that the light soups, salads, and sandwiches currently provided by Panera Bread make for a healthy, but unsatisfying dinner.

The new dinner options include more sizable and satisfying meals, including flatbread pizzas, bowls, and meatier sandwiches that still utilize popular Panera flavors. New vegetable sides have also been added.

One noteworthy addition is the Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Artisan Flatbread, featuring smoked pulled chicken, chopped bacon, garlic cream sauce, fresh mozzarella and fontina, red grape tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and the chain’s classic chipotle aioli.

With food production contributing up to a quarter of the world’s total carbon emissions, chicken is becoming an increasingly preferred protein option for restaurants and customers alike. When compared with plant-based foods, animal-based food production necessitates a much larger carbon footprint.

Beef production uses, on average, about 20 times the land that plants necessitate, and results in at least 20 times as many carbon emissions as the average plant. And cows, goats, and sheep alike emit the highly potent greenhouse gas, methane.

For concerned meat lovers, there is a more carbon-friendly option than beef. According to a study conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey examining the average daily eating habits of over 16,000 participants, chicken is a drastically better option than beef when it comes to carbon.

Of any type of meat, beef has the heaviest footprint, regardless of how it is cut. Chicken, in contrast, has one of the lightest footprints of animal proteins. Chickens are a surprisingly efficient source of protein, requiring far less fertilizer and land acreage.

Diego Rose, the lead author on the study and a researcher at Tulane University, stresses that every person needs to be proactive in combating climate change. “Climate change is such a dramatic problem,” he says. According to Rose, the only way to curb destructive increases in global warming is to curb the global beef, goat, and lamb consumption. “All sectors of society need to be involved.”

In another study using the U.S. Healthy Eating Index, Rose found that people who maintained a healthy diet typically have low carbon footprints. Plant-based diets consistently correlate with improved personal health and positive environmental effects.

Panera Bread does offer a plant-based menu for climate-conscious consumers. The menu includes sandwiches, bowls, soups, and a number of fresh smoothies. According to Noel White, the current president and CEO of Tyson Foods, plant-based and alternative protein menu items have been “experiencing double-digit growth.” Tyson Foods just added a plant-based brand to its product line.

Panera’s Wegiel maintains that the chain is looking toward the future. “We stepped back about a year ago ... to say, ‘Over the next five years, where are we going to grow? Where are we going to get most of our value creation?’”

In regards to growth, Panera Bread has already added to its menu options this year: the chain successfully expanded its breakfast menu with new egg wraps, bakery items, and a remodeled coffee program. Restaurants and fast food chains like Taco Bell have instituted similar menu updates to boost sales.

At present, the majority of Panera’s delivery orders occur around lunchtime. And the chain has rebuffed any suggested partnerships with third-party delivery services: Panera Bread handles all delivery needs itself. With new dinner options, the company may need to rethink its delivery strategy in order to accommodate an increase in evening orders.

This post is brought to you by Tyson Foods. To learn more, visit The Modern Chef Network.

Subway Not Chickening Out: Blasts 'Stunningly Flawed' DNA Test Calling Its Chicken Half Soy

How can you tell these tomatoes were sliced fresh today? ‘Cuz they're from Subway. 😄

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Mega fast food chain Subway has a bone to "peck" with CBC News and the broadcast company's recent report on its show "Marketplace." In late February, CBC published an investigation that revealed the DNA analysis of poultry across several fast food restaurants.

The results? While brands such as McDonald's and Wendy's scored about 85 and 89 percent chicken in their popular sandwich products, CBC stated the "Eat Fresh" icon's chicken is, well, only 50 percent chicken. The rest, they claimed, is soy. And alarmed Subway fans definitely said what the cluck in response to these findings.

Perhaps CBC shouldn't count their chickens before they hatch because Subway's is fighting back. The sandwich chain said the report was "false and misleading" in an email release. Two independent laboratories, one in Canada and one in the United States, found that Subway's Canadian chicken products only showed trace amounts of soy, contradicting the assertions made by the Canadian television show "Marketplace."

"The stunningly flawed test by 'Marketplace' is a tremendous disservice to our customers. The safety, quality, and integrity of our food is the foundation of our business. That's why we took extra caution to test and retest the chicken," Subway President and CEO Suzanne Greco said. "Our customers can have confidence in our food. The allegation that our chicken is only 50 percent chicken is 100 percent wrong."

Since the CBC test results went out, the restaurant group attempted to reach out to Marketplace and the lab that performed the test to ask about their methodology and process, but they did not receive further engagement besides receiving the results. After sending samples to Maxxam Analytics in Canada and Elisa Technologies, Inc., in Florida and discovering that those findings uncovered less than 1 percent of soy — "consistent with the low levels of soy protein that we add with the spices and marinade to keep the products moist and flavorful" — Subway is demanding an apology and retraction from CBC.

Still, CBC is standing by its report. Trent University Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory DNA researcher Matt Harnden tested six popular chicken sandwiches. In Subway's case, CBC "Marketplace" tested three samples from Subway, two from Subway's oven-roasted chicken and one from their chicken strips, which were then broken down into three smaller samples. All were individually tested, then tested again.

The results varied so greatly from the other sandwich brands that the lab tested 10 new Subway samples from multiple locations across Southern Ontario. The average results were 53.6 percent chicken DNA for the oven-roasted product and 42.8 percent for the chicken strips.

CBC posted all of its DNA data in a follow-up report, adding that only Subway had significant levels of plant DNA and that the brand declined to speak with "Marketplace" about the topic on camera. 

"DNA tests do not lie (especially when conducted multiple times), and anyone with access to a DNA laboratory could perform these tests," University of Guelph food scientist Benjamin Bohrer wrote.

The last thing Subway needs is another scandal after its rough comeback these last few years. In an effort to keep things fresh (and instead of running around like a chicken with its head cut off), the chain posted an in-depth letter to its customers with links to DNA analyses, as well.

"Producing high-quality food for our customers is our highest priority. We've always known our chicken is 100-percent real chicken," the company said. Read More

Flying High: Fastest Growth in Chicken Concepts

Flying High: Fastest Growth in Chicken Concepts

Once upon a time, fast casual chicken restaurants were a dime a dozen- the packaging might have been different, but the tastes were largely the same. We talked to two trailblazing companies on their approach to chicken and what they're doing to set themselves apart from the competition.

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